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by Atticus Carroll

Copyright 2011 Atticus Carroll

Smashwords Edition


There was a dream I had one night. I had a good leg and wore checkered silks, just like a real jockey -- not some broken farm girl with these mud-slick rubber boots and clacking metal brace.

I rode a gleaming white horse. His breath pounded out of his nostrils like a riot and his legs hammered the gray dirt track. We were sitting last in the pack, with the final turn and the wide open homestretch in front of us.

The crowd in the grandstand began to holler and dance as the horses whipped around the turn and barreled toward the wire, their hooves beating and kicking and sounding like a storm-scarred sky, rolling with thunder. Mud and clods of dirt rose off the ground, churned into bits by the pounding race. The spray fluttered about in a cloud of rocky snow.

I chirped to the white horse.

"Come on now," I urged, "This is our race."

The horse stretched low underneath me and grabbed the bit. For some unknown, dreamy reason, I dropped the reins and snatched a piece of the horse's glistening mane instead. The horse shot me a look, and I could have sworn I saw a twinkle swimming in the deep liquid behind his lashes.

And just like that, he bolted.

His ears bent forward, and his legs recoiled and fired again and again, smashing into the dirt. His steady, even breath came blasting out of his nostrils every time his shoes slammed into the track, the weight of his enormous back pushing the air out of his lungs.

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